Photos courtesy of Kevin Cline
In most of the close games and eventual losses during the Chip Kelly era, a common theme seemed to surface consistently. An opposing team that was able to slow the run game enough force the Ducks to throw would sometimes find that Oregon couldn’t.
The 2012 game against Stanford aside, we saw opposing teams like Arkansas State, Washington, and Cal load up against the run only to eventually be shredded in the secondary by the pass.
Almost lost in Kenjon Barner’s 321 yards and five touchdown highlight-reel game against USC was the stat line for Oregon’s then-freshman quarterback. In an offensive shootout, the Ducks dictated the pace of the game in large part by completing 20/23 (86.9%) pass attempts for a healthy 304 yards and four touchdowns.
To consistently move the ball can prove to be a challenge without the rapid succession of gashing runs which force the subsequent quick reads, adjustments and realignments that the Oregon up-tempo offense, when firing on all cylinders, imposes on an opposing defense. Production in the passing game requires solid protection, receivers that can get open, and an accurate quarterback who also makes sound decisions.
With a deep and talented offensive line in place and sophomore sensation QB Marcus Mariota at the helm, this Oregon football team seems to have an abundance of two of these three ingredients.
So, what about receivers who can get open?
Don’t look now, but with 13 players on scholarship, the Ducks appear to have some serious size and speed to work with at the receiver position in 2013 and beyond. Over the past few recruiting cycles, a focus of the Oregon coaching staff has been finding players who can help improve production in the passing game. Who will stand out among this group?
Below are brief profiles for six current Duck receivers who bring the most size to the wide receiver group.
If it seems like Hawkins has been making plays for the Ducks for a while now, it’s because the versatile receiver has been. Hawkins has been with the Oregon program since Jeremiah Masoli and LeGarrette Blount rumbled over Beavers on the way to a Pac-10 conference championship and Rose Bowl berth against Ohio State in 2009. Hawkins was not a highly regarded recruit, but Chip Kelly saw something in the multi-sport athlete who was a high school QB. He has officially taken snaps as a QB, RB, and WR for the Ducks, and “simulated” Cam Newton for the scout team during the BCS National Championship game preparations. He has played in 29 career games and caught 25 passes last season. His size and knowledge will be counted on in the run blocking side of things, and his hands and elusiveness should allow him to add to his six career touchdowns.
#18 Dwayne Stanford 6’5″/210 So – Cincinnati, Ohio
The 2012 Army All-American selection is the tallest of the current Oregon receivers. Combining outstanding leaping ability and a reported 4.5 40 speed with his height and range, Stanford should provide a matchup challenge for virtually any defensive back. The Oregon coaches surely appreciate the potential impact in run/downfield blocking situations as well, with a skill set similar to former Rose Bowl offensive MVP Lavasier Tuinei. Stanford played in 13 games last season as a true freshman, and showed flashes of promise in hauling in 11 catches for 106 yards. After being labeled as a four-star prospect out of high school and garnering over 20 scholarship offers from Alabama to Notre Dame, and virtually every team in between, the spotlight will be on Stanford to emerge in 2013.
#20 Chance Allen 6’3″/195 Fr – Missouri City, Texas
Allen redshirted in 2012 after a productive high school career that included catching 22 touchdowns and serving as a go-to for fellow Duck receiver Bralon Addison, who was his QB while at Fort Bend Elkins HS. Considered a three-star prospect by Rivals.com, Chance Allen was pursued by Oklahoma State, Mississippi State and Oregon State among others before deciding on Oregon. With a reported 28″ vertical leap and 4.5-sec. 40 speed, this freshman appears to have all of the makings of a potential top-flight receiver for the Ducks.
#87 Darren Carrington 6’2″/186 Fr – San Diego, California
In high school, the coaches couldn’t keep Carrington off the field, and that should bode well for the UO wide receiver competition in fall camp. The four star recruit with a 4.6 40 time who also played QB and safety made the Rivals250 list and was tabbed as a first team Cal-hi all-state selection. Possibly the most highly regarded prospect according to the recruiting rankings on this list, Carrington garnered attention from schools like Michigan, Arizona, Arizona State, Notre Dame, Boise State, Nebraska, and a serious late push by Urban Meyer at Ohio State. And if his name sounds familiar, it might be because his dad is former San Diego Chargers safety, Darren Sr, who played on the winning ’94 Super Bowl team.
#23 B.J. Kelley 6’2″/181 So – Fresno, California
When B.J. Kelley came to Oregon, he was part of a trio of highly touted four star receivers who many envisioned would make up the starting lineup for years to come. This season, Kelley is the only one of those three who is still here after the transfers of Devon Blackmon and Tacoi Sumler. Kelley is a two sport athlete in football and track, running the 60 (6.90) 100 (10.84) and 4×100 for the Pac-12 champion Ducks’ Track & Field team, and has been clocked at 4.43 in the 40 on the football field. After redshirting in 2011 and earning his way onto the scout team, B.J. managed to see action in 11 games in 2012 and made the most of it, catching two touchdowns in just six receptions.
Might 2013 be a breakout season for Eric Dungy? The junior is now entering his fourth season in the Ducks offense, and has shown progress each year. After a redshirt season, Dungy has now played in 17 games, averaging 10.7 yards per catch and scoring a touchdown while playing an ever-increasing role on special teams. Tenured players like Eric tend to develop a deeper and more ingrained understanding of scheme and first-hand exposure to full game speed can be invaluable to a football team. Another key characteristic Dungy has? He is a winner. His teams in high school were a combined 53-4, and since he arrived in Eugene in 2010, the Ducks have won 12 games each season, going 36-4 overall.
Other “sizable” Duck wide receivers
#1 Josh Huff 5’11″/200 Sr – Houston, Texas
#41 Blake Stanton, 5’11″/210 Jr – Encino, California
#84 Chad Delaney, 6’0″/181 Sr – Elmira, Oregon
#13 Devon Allen, 6’0″/187 Fr – Phoenix, Arizona
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